Overall this is a very impressive ship. Beautiful layout and even for her size, easy to find your way around (there are interactive boards to guide you), but we found the ship to really be too big for our liking. Even though there are so many people on the ship, it did not feel that way. We were always able to do whatever we wanted to do, but I do suggest booking as much as possible in advance. We wanted to go to a comedy show early on, and it was booked. We went down to stand in the standby line, and did get in, but it will save you a lot of time by booking what you want to do in advance.
Every member of the crew/staff is excellent, friendly & helpful. We were told that the line picked the best of the best to be on their new ship, and it did show.
So why were we not crazy about the ship?
First some good things. When we first got on the ship we saw a bunch of people in Boleros. We walked over and someone told us they were waiting for their connect. What this is is an i-phone that is set up to use the ships wireless lan. So instead of having to carry around a walkie talkie, you could rent one. They were $17 for the week each, but they were very handy. Service was spotty at times, but overall worked great. If you do this, do it quick, they were sold out within 3 hours.
Getting on and off this ship is a breeze. We never waited to get off. Just go down to deck 3, down the escalator, and out you go. Getting back on was just as easy. Just remember to keep your seapass card out that you have to pass through the scanners on the way back in. Also, getting off at the end of the cruise was a breeze. You have a number that is put on your luggage, and you are given a time. When our number was called, we walked off the ship, down the escalator to the terminal, went to the area with our number, got our bags, over to customs and out. I don't think it took more than 15 minutes from the time we were told we could go, until we were out by the busses.
The bad? It seems like a lot of things that should be included, cost extra, or the extra cost seemed a little high. I get that you want to charge for premium coffee drinks, ice-cream and cupcakes, but I don't need to pay starbucks prices.
There also seemed to be a lot of kinks that still needed to be worked out. The Aquatheater was down for most of our cruise. The sound system didn't work during our safety drill. There were numerous other times that things didn't work right.
Below are some more comments.
Royal Promenade. This is a very nice area, and we loved this area when we were on the Explorer and the Adventure of the seas. Lots to do here, but it seemed like the shops were small, with not a lot in them. There is a cupcake store, where you can purchase a cupcake for $2. It was fun to sit and people watch, but it never felt like the A/C was really working, we were always hot.
Boardwalk. Again, looks nice, with the carousel and the shops. At the end was the Aquatheater. It was just always too hot to walk out there. You never felt any air moving, and when you walked outside, it was tough to breath. The Aquatheater was also broken for our cruise. It did start to work at one point, but broke again. We had been given a paper when we were boarding to let us know that there were problems with the Aquatheater.
Pool area & sports deck. We did not like the layout around the pool area. On the other ships the decks are tiered so that you can overlook the pools, here they are set up so that you are at one pool or another. It was never too hard to find a chair, but again, the heat was brutal. All of the chairs that were under shade were always taken.
Central Park. This was a real letdown in a way. It looks great, with all the trees and the winding paths. The overall problem was that during the day it was brutal to walk out there, there is no air movement at all. It does not get any better at night, where it is steamy. We commented about this to our bartender at Vintages, he said it was because the ship retains all the heat during the day, and then when it cools down in the evening, it just gets muggy.
Food. The food is good. I would not say great, but overall it was very good. For breakfast & lunch we found that we liked the Park Cafe. The roast beef sandwiches are fantastic. We also did try Chops for dinner, that I will say was fantastic. We did try to get to as many of the eating spots as possible, and like I said, they were all good, not great.
Rooms. We had a superior oceanview room with a balcony. It is small. Not sure how you really fit more than two people in there. Good thing for us was that our kids were in the next room. There is plenty of closet space and room if it is only two. We had been told that there was free internet from the rooms. Not sure where we saw that, but it was not true. You did need to purchase a package if you wanted to go on line.
Spa. We decided to treat ourselves with a massage. We signed up right after we got on the ship for the next day in the afternoon. It was nice, but there was something being fixed somewhere, so all you could hear was a hammer banging into something. That did kind of kill the mood.
Gym. This was just first class. All new machines, and we never had any problem getting on a machine. We did not sign up for any classes, but they did offer a lot (most for a fee).
Entertainment. We did not like the entertainment on this cruise. We did watch Hairspray, and that was great. We also saw the comedy show one night, and that was OK. We had a real hard time though, finding things for us to do some nights. There was lots in the compass, but it did not fit into our times very well. We also never really saw any bands out by the pool, or any of the usual pool games. We played bingo one time, but that cost $48. A little bit too steep to play again.
The ship is in the port from Noon to 7 (ship time). We met our tour at the pier, and left around 1pm. The drive to the zip lines was 1 1/2 hours each way, and then there is another 20 minute drive in an old truck to get you suited up. That takes 1/2 hour, and after a short intro, you walk to a tower to begin your zipping. Here you wait and wait, as they take two at a time and winch you up to the zip platform. Once up, they get you set and off you go. Really not much to see, but watch out for the giant grasshoppers, they hurt when you fly into them.
At the end of the first zip, you get pulled up to another platform. And off you go again. We found out that there were only three zip lines that you do. There are 11 in the park, you only do three. So overall, you actually zip for about 15 minutes.
As you waited for the rest of your group to finish, you are given your snack, an orange that was almost un-edible. Then you are taken back to the start, so you can return the gear, and buy a photo of yourself on the line.
After the long bus ride back, we got to the town at about 6:20, and you were supposed to be on board by 6:30, so we raced back to the ship, and walked down to our dinner (early seating), since we were so starved.